NOTEBOOK: Frank Yallop heads to Europe as goalkeeper Sean Johnson returns from Norwich stint

Yallop heads to scout England and Spain while Johnson returns from Norwich stint

Fire head coach and Director of Soccer Frank Yallop had a week full of comings and goings last week as he saw two players join other teams while also welcoming C.J. Brown back to the club as an assistant coach and trading to bring Lovel Palmer to the Fire from RSL.

With a little bit of domestic work done, Yallop confirmed at Saturday’s Season Ticket Holder Town Hall meeting that he would be heading out for scouting in Europe that night.

“I’ll be going to a number of clubs,” Yallop told Chicago-Fire.com last week.  “Namely Tottenham and Norwich – where there are people I know well and I’m just looking at young players that we’d have the possibility of signing or getting on loan. I’m going to [Fire Team for the World Partner] Atletico Madrid as well and just looking for players.

“I’ve got scouts I’ve spoken to already going to watch games and we’ll be getting a good feel of what the market is like. I’ll bounce around as much as I can and really get after it, seeing as much soccer as I can in two weeks.”

Yallop won’t be the first Fire representative to go through Norwich or Atletico Madrid this offseason.

The Fire manager confirmed Saturday that starting goalkeeper Sean Johnson had just concluded a two-week stay with the Canaries as he continues to build towards a spot on next summer’s U.S. World Cup roster, while Dilly Duka and Victor Pineda also recently completed a two-week training stint with Atleti earlier this month.

Following the U.S. Men’s National Team’s two friendlies against Scotland and Austria last month, Johnson stayed to train with Norwich, marking the fourth straight offseason the Fire netminder had taken in time abroad.

“You can’t beat training at that level and in that environment,” Johnson told Chicago-Fire.com on Monday. “From a routine standpoint, it was good for me to continue what I’ve done in the past and set myself up to come back stronger in the new year.

Considered to be a contender for the USMNT’s third goalkeeper spot, Johnson recognizes how crucial the start of the 2014 MLS season will be to his chances as he battles the likes of Nick Rimando and Bill Hamid for a place on the team’s roster in Brazil.

“I think my chances are good. It’s important to stay focused on the task at hand and that’s the 2014 MLS season and hopefully the rest will fall into place. It’s going to be a big year for U.S. Soccer and for myself personally. A major goal of mine since I became a professional was always to be better than I was the year before.

“Obviously I’m hoping on the World Cup roster and the season will dictate what will happen but I’m going to do as much as I can to influence things for myself.”